Municipal Law • Judgment on the Pleadings

Borough of Chambersburg v. Keeler, PICS Case No. 14-0248 (Pa. Commw. Feb. 10, 2014) Friedman, J. (8 pages).

The court affirmed the entry of judgment in favor of Chambersburg on its claim for unpaid municipal services.

Chambersburg filed a municipal claim against Keeler for unpaid municipal services. The trial court issued a writ stating the balance due was $1,152.44, plus 10 percent interest, costs and attorney fees.

Keeler filed an affidavit of defense, admitting he resided at the property against which Chambersburg filed the lien, that he had one or more utility accounts at that address, and that the utility accounts were in arrears. Keeler explained the arrears were due to his suffering a series of strokes and heart failures which caused him to lose his business. Keeler further stated that he planned to pay the arrearages with money from a heating assistance program. Keeler had been living in the house with no heat. He requested that Chambersburg be enjoined from further action and that the claim for legal costs be set aside.

Chambersburg filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Keeler contested the amount of unpaid services. He further asserted that Chambersburg had unconditionally waived the attorney fees, costs and interest.

The trial court found no material dispute of fact and granted Chambersburg’s motion for judgment on the pleadings on January 28, 2012. The court specifically found that although Keeler contested the amount of the lien, the amount was a matter of record. Keeler appealed. The trial court issued an order that was docketed January 7, 2013, requiring Keeler to file his statement of errors within 21 days from the date the order was docketed. Keeler did not file his statement until February 4, 2013, which was 28 days after the trial court order was docketed.

Chambersburg argued Keeler failed to timely file a concise statement of errors and that he had therefore waived all appellate issues. Keeler contended that his time started to run from the date the order was mailed, and because the final day fell on a Saturday, he was entitled to file his statement the next business day. The court disagreed. The trial court gave Keeler 21 days from the date the order was docketed, not from the mailing date. This meant the statement was due no later than January 31, 2013. Keeler waived all issues on appeal because his statement of errors was not timely filed.

Even if Keeler’s claims had not been waived, the court indicated it would still affirm the trial court because the amount of the lien was of record and the Chambersburg code provided that interest for the collection of municipal liens was set a rate of ten percent annually. That code also required the imposition of attorney fees incurred during the collection of municipal liens. Keeler could not have prevailed even if he had timely filed his statement of errors.